"Who cares?" she whispered back with a playful laugh, for once not minding at all that they weren't exactly fitting in with the surroundings. "Besides, this is as much a treat for me as for you, you know." It was all about the ice cream, even for her. Watching Johnny partake of his favorite sweet treat was an erotic experience even of itself. She'd first seen him do it in her hospital room a year before; he didn't seem to have noticed how many times she'd engineered repeats of that performance during their time together, as much for her own enjoyment as his. She caught his hand to kiss his fingers fondly, grateful to find that their waitress had taken one look at them and found one of the more out of the way tables to sit them at. Careful not to flash anything too personal, she lowered herself to sit, tucking one leg over the other for extra surety.
He knew she enjoyed ice cream almost if not as much as he did, and he had a feeling she was going to use that ice cream somehow to tease him further, making love to it instead of him. This evening was turning into one frustrating event after another, though it was certainly amusing to make her squirm. He was almost wishing he hadn't thrown down the challenge. They could have been back in the hotel room right now, snuggled together beneath the covers and enjoying room service. He seemed deep in thought a moment as he considered it, but that thought was doing nothing to calm his over-active libido. "Livvie..." he started as he took a seat across from her. Whenever he started a sentence that way, she could be sure he was feeling some uncertainty about something, some lack of confidence or other. They were really too much alike. He didn't need to ask if she loved him; he knew that much already. "Do you think we should move to New York?" Yes, he had strange timing, but the question had been nagging at him all day.
She blinked, a little surprised by the sudden dip into seriousness as they took their seats. They really hadn't discussed the future much at all, aside from the possibility of getting a house and a dog at some point sooner rather than later. Laying her clutch down, she rested her elbows forward onto the table, leaning toward him as she answered as best she could. "I'd like to, some day," she assured him quietly. "As much as I like living in Rhy'Din, it isn't the place I want to live out the rest of my life. It isn't home, not like Earth is. I'm not saying I want to move right away, though. It's nice to have a life apart from Lucy, away from her always having one beady eye on me, trying to meddle and make me something different to what I am at heart. But ..." She paused, not entirely sure where she was going with her but. "What brought this on? Do you want to move back to New York?"
"No," he replied. "Not right away, but..." There was a but from him, too. He liked living his own life, away from Sue's overprotective eyes, away from Baxter Tower, but their whole family was going to be in New York now, and they weren't. Still, he knew he'd miss the friends they'd made in Rhy'Din, too. The Grangers had taken them in and practically adopted them, and without a father figure in his life, he felt as strong an attachment to Humphrey as Liv might feel for Peggy. And then there was his nephew and Steve and Lucy's baby. He felt torn between the life they were building in Rhy'Din and the family they'd left behind in New York. "Peggy is... I mean..."
Comprehension dawned with his faltering words, and Liv felt a pang in her heart for what it was neither of them wanted to say. Peggy was old. She couldn't have many more years left, if she even had years at all. "I know," she said softly, looking down at the smooth wood of the table. "But she wouldn't want us to change everything in our lives just for the sake of being near by. She knows about Rhy'Din, and the portals. And I ..." It was her turn to falter, but she pushed on, knowing she had to express herself or risk losing him entirely to the sudden seriousness of temper. "I don't want to start relying on her too much. We're going to lose her, Johnny, much much sooner than any of us want to. I don't want that to break me when it happens. I ... God, that sounds so selfish."
He reached across the table to link his fingers with hers. That certainly couldn't be against the rules. He was frowning again, almost wanting to kick himself for bringing the subject up. This evening was supposed to be about fun, not about this, but it was something that needed to be discussed, sooner rather than later. "It doesn't sound selfish. I sort of feel the same about Grumphrey... I mean, Humphrey. It's going to kill Steve," he said, thinking that when they did lose Peggy, it was going to be hardest on Steve and Liv. Lucy was strong, she'd manage it. She'd find strength just in being there for Steve and Liv, and Johnny would have to do his part, as well, to ease the pain. They weren't facing that just yet, but it was only a matter of time. "I'm sorry. I... I shouldn't have brought it up." The waitress wandered over to set some menus on the table, promising she'd be right back.
"Don't apologize," Liv told him softly, folding her other hand around their linked fingers, the game forgotten for now in the face of their conversation, barely noticing as the waitress wandered in and out of their privacy. "I know what you mean, and ... well, I understand why it's bothering you, sweetheart. I want to be there for Steve as much as you do when it happens. But this isn't a decision we can make over one dinner, after one meeting, and it's a decision we should include Peggy in, since it's influenced by her. We'll work something out." But her eyes were sad for a long moment, thinking of the lonely old woman who had made such an impression on her only a few hours ago, and how easily that impression was going to turn to love. No matter the brave face Liv might put on it, she knew she'd have to run the gamut of painful bereavement, regardless of how close she let herself get to her great-aunt.
It didn't escape Johnny that all of this was going to be hard on Liv, maybe just as hard as on Steve, but in a different way. Peggy was the only link to a mother Liv and Lucy had never known, and Johnny knew how much that link meant to them both. "We should try to see her as much as we can. Make the time she has left memorable, happy. We can do it, Liv. We can all do it together. She's been alone long enough." Though they had only just met Peggy, he knew Liv was already forming an attachment, and he'd already grown fond of the old woman, just as he had with Humphrey. "Maybe we should send her and Humphrey on a blind date," he suggested, more in jest than in seriousness, in an attempt to lighten the mood again.
His suggestion had the desired effect, chasing away the dip in her mood and replacing it with a sudden splutter of laughter that was all but impossible to hide. "Only if we can spy on them," she added with a warm smile, grateful to him for lifting her up before she fell too far. "Can you imagine Jon's face if we told him we'd found his uncle a girlfriend?"
"An older woman, too," he added with a warm smile, a hint of his usual good humor dancing in his eyes. "A cougar." Though he was not entirely sure how old Humphrey was, he got the impression Peggy was older. He wondered if he'd ever be that old. "Can you imagine Humphrey's face?" he continued with a chuckle, chasing the dark thoughts away.
Though she was still shy of Old Man Granger - and he did nothing to discourage it, either - Liv couldn't help another giggle as she imagined the weather old face of the man they were pretending to set up. "It would be worth it, just to see Peggy put him in his place," she laughed softly, reluctantly loosening one hand from his to open the menu beside her.
"Livvie... No matter what happens, I'll always be here for you. You know that, right?" he asked, a questioning look on his face, needing her to know this. It wasn't enough just to make promises. Promises were just words, nothing more. Actions spoke louder than words, he knew, and he needed her to know that he was always going to stand by his promises. He reluctantly let go of her hand, but his eyes remained fixed on hers, even as she turned her attention to her menu.
Feeling more than hearing the forceful need in his voice, she raised her eyes to his once again, her hand renewing the clasp of their fingers as she held his gaze, willing him to see the absolute faith and trust she had in him. "I do," she promised him. "I know I worry about stupid things that will never happen, but I know better than anything that you'll never let me down, Johnny. I hope I never let you down."
"You won't," he said with complete and utter certainty, returning the faith and trust she had in him with that of his own in her. A smile touched his lips as he glanced over at her menu with a short nod of his head. "You ordering pizza or going straight to the ice cream?"
She blushed, the reason becoming clear for that little dip into his shyer wife once again as she answered his question. "Oh, I think I'm going to need as much energy as I can get tonight," she told him with a tiny, inviting smile. One of them was going to cave before the end of the evening, she was sure of it, if not both. "I can't eat a whole pizza by myself, though, so ... it all really depends on you." The angle of her head brought her gaze to his through the thick sweep of her lashes, the expression less about food and more about other appetites.